By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
Alabama leads the nation in graduating high school students on time, but middle school students’ math and reading scores are near last in the country, according to a new report.
Alabama ranked 46th in the nation in overall child well-being, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s 2022 KIDS COUNT Data Book released today. That ranking is up from 47th in 2021.
The annual report looks at 16 indicators of child well-being related to education, health care, economic factors and community and family. Data points come from 2016 through 2020.
Alabama did improve in 10 of the indicators but in four of them the state fell behind the rest of the nation, according to a written statement today.
“It is disappointing to see the well-being of Alabama’s children continue to lag behind other states despite the state making critical gains for our children,” said Rhonda Mann, VOICES for Alabama’s Children’s interim executive director. “We know it is easier to focus on rankings. However, regardless if we jumped ahead one or two spots, or fell backwards, it’s more important to ask why children in our state are faring this way, and what it will take to improve their well-being. Behind every number in this report is a child.”
This year’s report includes an interactive map that summarizes Alabama’s ranks and compares the state to others.
The state’s highest rankings were: The percentage of students not graduating on time, 8%, and the percentage of children without health insurance, 3%.
Its worst rankings were: The percent of students who scored below proficient in fourth-grade reading, 72%, the percent of low-birth weight babies, 10.8%, and the percent of students who scored below proficient in eighth-grade math, 79%.
Data in the report comes from multiple years, only some of it post-COVID.
This year’s report highlights more mental health care needs among children and teens and increases nationwide in diagnosis of anxiety and depression.
Massachusetts led this year’s rankings. Nevada, Mississippi and Louisiana ended the list.